GONNA TAKE A NAP AND POST MORE LATER!
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The Unseelie Court coffers are almost empty…it’s nearly insolvent, its people are starving and Ihsan’s stepfather has replaced all of his fathers’ council with that of his own family members, who are also robbing the Court blind. If Ihsan’s mother knew what her betrothed was doing to their Court, she did nothing to stop him.
Ihsan gave his stepfather’s family a choice. They could leave of their own volition or as a corpse. They cleared the Court faster than a beggar cleared a plate of fresh food.
“Report,” Ihsan demands.
Imani clears her throat, “There’s nothing to report. Our mother’s husband and his family handled all of our finances,” she informs him. In other words, no one has any idea where their economy stands.
“Who handled our finances prior to Lucien and his family of vultures?”
It’s been so long since he’s seen any of his grandparents that Ihsan can’t even remember what they look like. He was a young male when Lucien seduced his mother and murdered his father.
“Where is grandfather?”
“Dead. He spoke out against his king and lost his head for it.”
Closing his eyes, Ihsan sighs. Killing his mother’s lover was sounding more and more appealing. But he gave his mother a promise. She and her betrothed wouldn’t challenge his birthright if he allowed them to walk away with their lives. He didn’t want to imagine what role if any his mother played in his father’s death. His father loved his mother beyond words and for her to be involved in his demise...it’s unfathomable.
“You know this Court better than I. I need a treasurer to account for every coin, or lack thereof, every piece of property, our valuable possessions and every debt.” Ihsan instructs. “Do we at least have an army?”
“No. General Jeron became fed up with our stepfather and took our fathers army elsewhere. As a Court, we are severely unprotected,” she explains.
“From what I hear of Jeron, he was a devout protector of our father. He would have wanted to protect his legacy, which means he wouldn’t have gone far. Send someone to find him and lets pray he still has an army.”
“Right away your majesty,” Imani nods.
“Are their any nobles left?”
“Yes. I will have them rounded up and brought to you.”
Ihsan nods. His gaze goes to the shadows swirling around him. He knew he had gifts, but he was so young when he was taken from his homeland that they hadn’t manifested yet. He wondered what the shadows could do.
“One last thing. My gift, what is it?” He asks, twirling the shadows up his forearms. “And what do you know of a girl name Alara? She has gifts similar to mine.”
“You are the King of the Unseelie Court or Dark court, your power is darkness and you are what others call Darkin.” Imani spoke as if that particular knowledge was widely known or rudimentary. “As far as Alara, she’s not to be trusted. She came here in search of her origin and when she saw the things we could do, she stayed long enough to learn their limits. She betrayed us to Lucien for coin to care for her bastard, and then she simply disappeared like a thief in the night with our valued historian Tomich.”
Imani didn’t seem to like the girl any more than he did. Perhaps Tomich was indeed her only friend. That wouldn’t surprise him in the least seeing how well she treated Arya.
Ihsan’s thoughts often went to the beautiful assassin he’d kissed before coming here to claim his birthright. He did this for her. Before Arya he didn’t feel the need to disrupt his mother’s happy life. She had a choice and she chose her lover over her son. He should probably hate her for it, but he doesn’t. He pities her. She’s in love with a man who would use her for everything she has and when it’s all gone…when the coffers run dry and the free ride is over, she will have served her purpose.
He didn’t understand it when he was a small male and his mother asked him to leave so she could be happy and never return. He saw his mother several times afterwards sitting beside the usurper on his father’s throne. Each of those times he was being sold at auction to one Court or another. Lucien never seemed to recognize him, but she did. She tried her best to pretend as if she didn’t, but she knew and willingly turned a blind eye.
Over many cycles Ihsan battled with feelings of being unwanted and unloved. He didn’t know which was worse, to know your mother lived and didn’t wish to see you, or not know anything about your mother at all. He envied Arya for that reason. She didn’t know who her birth parents were and she wasn’t interested in knowing. Why would she?Malich with his many faults had spoiled her with the very best life had to offer. He fought for his birthright while Ihsan had walked away from his, never to return. Now what’s left of his family, and his people, are all suffering.
Imani returns with nobleman from every tribe dwelling within the Unseelie Court. As they gather into the throne room, Ihsan goes over his talking points in his head. He waits until they’re all seated before he speaks.
“My father was a good man-”
His uncle rises from his seat, his chest heaving and anger flaring behind his eyes. “What do you know of your father? He was weak. Your mother saw to that and as far as I’m concerned any offspring of hers is a curse to our sacred land.”
Ihsan could hear Imani’s throat bob followed by a hard swallow. Still, he keeps his voice even…calm. “My father was blind to my mother’s faults, that much I’ll concede, and it cost him his life. It cost me my life as well and weakened this court, but make no mistake. I am notmy father.”
“I say we do away with your entire godsdamned bloodline,” spoke a man from a noble family Ihsan didn’t recognize.
“That is Ziba, our father’s advisor,” Imani whispered into his ear.
“Ziba is it? You were my father’s advisor were you not? Do you not share in his failures as his advisor?”
“Your father stopped listening to me when your mother started whispering her poison into his ears,” Ziba hisses. “He was weak with love for that adulteress woman, that venomous snake! He should have never been allowed to rule and I am here to challenge your right to take both his place and that of the usurper your mother soils her bed with.”
Ziba’s soldier’s readies to attack and Ihsan pushes Imani behind him. She’s so frightened her nails dig into his skin. “We should leave,” she begs.
“Brethren, join me and lets put an end to this reign of tyranny!” Ziba raised his sword in the air. Imani’s nails dig in deeper. With no army and no one to fight for them, they’re outnumbered. Ihsan could probably take on twenty males at a time, but it would leave Imani unprotected. He had to think about his sister. He needed to preserve his lineage.
Ziba, his soldiers and the soldiers of every noble house within the Court began to descend upon the two siblings.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” A voice rang out over the angry crowd. A voice he knew as well as his own skin. The angry mob turns toward the back of the throne room where six people stood. Five were dressed in all white from head to toe and one from head to toe in all red.
“Kill them,” Ziba dispatches several of his soldiers.
Swords raised, a smile crept across Ihsan’s face as those men raced towards their death. Like the godsdamned phantom she was, Arya disappeared and reappeared severing limbs and painting the floors red. All of the men dispatched lay in a pile of limbs and gore on the floor before her.
“I don’t like being threatened,” she turns her attention and her sword to Ziba who blanches. “Perhaps you people don’t understand how this works. His father was King, and so shall he. Anyone who objects further can join these fine folks before me,” she waves her free hand over the pile of dead bodies. “Nothing kills a kingdom faster than insolence and mutiny. You lot of bastards should be grateful for what he’s done. He did what none of you had the balls to do and got rid of the decay plaguing your Court.”
“His bloodlineis the decay plaguing this c-” Ziba’s General’s body thudded to the floor before his words had fully left his mouth. A stiletto met him between the eyes.
“Who are you?” Ziba gapes at her.
“We are his majesty’s protective detail. Any threat on his life with result in death, so if you value your miserable lives, you’ll do as you are commanded by your King.”
Ziba glares at Arya as if he were trying to find a weakness he could exploit. She has none, and as she walks through the mob that was so eager to kill Ihsan and his sister to retrieve her stiletto. Ziba motions for his men to stand down. Every other nobleman and their soldiers follow suit.
“Now is the time for his majesty to put them in their place. You have their undivided attention,” Arya whispers into Ihsan’s ear.
“As king, I should have each of your heads for conspiring against me,” Ihsan met each of the nobleman’s gazes. “But, the reign of tyranny is over. I will forgive this one offense but do not think me generous or weak. Our people have suffered far too much and for far too long. Together we will conquer, but divided we willfall. As King, my only wish is for our people to flourish. Together, we can achieve that. The heads of the noble families will form a council. This council will act as my advisors to ensure that every noble house within this Court has a representative at the Kings table. My father has made mistakes, my mother being one of them, but Imani and I will do everything we can to right those wrongs.”
“Your stepfather, the usurper, has cut off all of the noble families from their stipends. Rumor has it the Court is bordering on bankruptcy,” another of the nobleman spoke.
“That is Dmitri Krause,” Imani whispered to Ihsan.
“I won’t lie to you, the state of our coffers is dire. Once I have the complete picture of the total devastation I will share it with the newly appointed council members who will collectivelyprovide a solution.”
The noblemen began to speak amongst themselves. For a moment Ihsan expects another mutiny, but Ziba and the other nobleman incline their heads, pleased with this new infrastructure.
Ihsan calls the meeting to an end and orders servants to clean up the bodies Arya piled up. He sends another set of servants to prepare rooms for Arya and her guests near his. He can’t wait to get her alone and would have come to her sooner, but things within his kingdom were worse than he expected. There’s so much animosity and resentment amongst his people for his bloodline. His father played the role of the fool to his mother and his mother turned a blind eye to the serpent in her bed.
“And here I thought the Summer Court were the worst of the worst,” Arya drawls.
“They aren’t bad people, they’re just angry and rightfully so.”
“They were going to kill both you and your sister. Thank God we showed up when we did. Where is your army?”
Ihsan shrugged, “Scattered. They deserted after my mother’s lover came into power. I have someone trying to locate them. They can’t be far.”
“Some birthright,” She replies sarcastically, taking in the onyx and diamond-flecked tile floors, crystal pillars, and gravel colored walls. The ceiling is vaulted, painted a midnight blue with diamonds embedded to reflect the stars of the night sky. She’s impressed. While Malich is nursing a heaping pile of shit back to life, Ihsan is living in one of the most beautiful palaces she’s ever seen.
“Did Malich send you?” Ihsan asks, weary of the assassin making rounds about his room. He wouldn’t put it past Malich to dispatch Arya to kill him for deserting his charge. Malich isn’t the sort of man who’d have a problem with killing a King.
“Yes, but not to do what your eyes suggest you’re thinking. He broke off our engagement and demanded I come here to see what if anything is left between us,” she explains.
“And so I’m here,” was all she said in response.ns 220.127.116.11da2